Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dave Cutler Rationalizes Azure “Skunk Works”

Dave Cutler answers his own sixth question in Mary Jo Foley’s “Red Dog: Five questions with Microsoft mystery man Dave Cutler” of 2/25/2009. Cutler writes:

One of the things you did not ask is why aren’t we saying more about Azure and in the process filling the marketplace with sterling promises for the future. The answer to this is simply that the RD group is very conservative and we are not anywhere close to being done. We believe that cloud computing will be very important to Microsoft’s future and we certainly don’t want to do anything that would compromise the future of the product. We are hypersensitive about losing people’s data. We are hypersensitive about the OS or hypervisor crashing and having properties experience service outages. So we are taking each step slowly and attempting to have features 100% operational and solidly debugged before talking about them. The opposite is what Microsoft has been criticized for in the past and the RD dogs hopefully have learned a new trick.

I don’t believe the skunk works approach is appropriate for Azure. Developers need a full description and timeline for required features. Failure to deliver promised features in a timely manner is what led to A Mid-Course Correction for SQL Data Services.


J Healy said...

As an ex-DEC SE and someone who has also been prodding Global Foundation Services management for Cutler press access and more RD details, I would disagree with you in regard to your skunkworks comment.

First, Cutler only works one way - with a small, expert and tight-knit teams; you never get anything out of him or his team until they're ready to release. Second, if the problem they're addressing - virtualizing and automating a compututational fabric over and across data centers - required a bunch of developer level interactions then they will have essentially failed.

And last, the RD project / team is in no way associated with the typical MS app-stack confusion (especially the lingering cloud of indecision around persistence) - Cutler would have walked before subjecting his team to such vagaries. I also very much doubt they get particularly involved in the Azure / .NET Services app layer sagas and tribulations in more than a passing way.